Straight Talk: Creating an Emotional Intelligence Program that Works

Emotional intelligence (EI) training is gaining traction in the business community, and that’s a good thing. But as someone who has studied this skill set for many years and made countless presentations to companies around the world, I can tell you that few organizations fully exploit the enormous potential of EI to improve individual and team performance, decision making, employee engagement. , and business success.

Emotional intelligence training yields measurable results

In my research, I focus on how emotional intelligence can produce tangible results. We find that supervisors with higher than lower EI have direct reports who are more inspired and less frustrated, less burnt out, more creative and more productive. Here are some additional statistics from the field that link effective IE training to net benefits for your organization:

Why more organizations are not benefiting from emotional intelligence

Unfortunately, many organizations that have tried to implement EI training – and other types of soft skills training – have been disappointed with the results. It’s no surprise that nearly 90% of new skills are lost and forgotten within a year. Building topical awareness through a training program is not enough, you have to change behavior.

With decades of research on how to develop EI skills that translate into tangible benefits, the shortcomings of workplace EI training programs are clear. In my experience, most programs fail because:

  • They focus on theory instead of building practical habits.
  • These are one-way lectures and do not give learners interactive opportunities to practice these new skills and reinforce their training.
  • They lack mechanisms to provide personalized feedback and coaching.
  • They are delivered in marathon sessions rather than small chunks which would help participants internalize and retain concepts more effectively.
  • There is no long-term sustainability plan (eg, continued development, accountability).

Create an IE training program that works

To give your EI program the best chance of success, you’ll want to avoid the pitfalls above. My advice: help your learners develop practical skills based on research and provide them with plenty of opportunities for practice and coaching. Show your teams why these skills are clearly relevant to their work (and that you’re in continuous learning mode). If you can show how their new skills can help them outside of work, they’ll be even more eager to learn. To move beyond tracking completion rates to measuring business results, you will need to:

  • Develop a program that allows your learners to develop their IE skills through repeated practice and feedback.
  • Make sure your program is geared towards authentic and relevant outcomes that matter to your learners.
  • Foster an approach to training where your leaders can apply the knowledge they learn to real-world scenarios.

For a hands-on approach to implementing emotional intelligence learning within your organization, sign up for our webinar on June 29.

Ryan H. Bowman